Have you ever messed up?
Have you ever screwed things up real bad?
..Yeah, we all have. It’s part of the human condition. We’re always fouling things up. We’re ever screwing up. It’s a given. It’s an ever-given.
We screw up relationships. We sabotage careers. We get caught up in all sorts of dysfunctional addictions and behaviors. We estrange ourselves from friends and loved ones. We’re screw ups.
But have you ever screwed up so bad that satellites can see your screw up from outer space?!
On March 23, a massive container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal causing the mother of all traffic jams. Aside from the delay in getting it’s ginormous number of rectangular steel shipping containers shipped to its destination, it caused some 350 other ships to be stuck behind it – waiting to deliver their loads! That meant delays for people’s Amazon purchases; delays in getting food people; delays in all manner of commerce. And it caused many other ships to have to go the long way and travel down around the bottom of Africa!
If you’ve ever participated in a Bible Study that I’ve led, you know that I make a point to look the meaning of various words, the meaning of names – the names of people, and the names of places.
Well, I did some looking up. Here’s what I found:
That ship that got stuck is named Ever Given. And it’s owned by a Japanese company; managed by the Evergreen corporation of Taiwan; is registered in Panama; and is the responsibility of a German management company.
I discovered that Ever Given isn’t just a ship, it’s a “golden class” cargo vessel that is one of the largest ships ever made. It’s 400 meters long – 1,312 feet – the length of 4 football fields, and has a gross tonnage capacity of 220K tons!
I learned that this Ever Given ship is the 2nd ship with that name. The first one was built in 1986, lived out its life, and was eventually scrapped, to be rebuilt as this new mega-ship called the Ever Given.
This Ever Given mishap was an international SNAFU of epic proportions! It seems it caused by a combination of strong winds – and user error. Humans. Humans who could’ve taken those winds into account – but didn’t. Fallible humans failing. Again, it’s ever-given that we humans will mess up in life. That’s a given – an ever-given.
Now, after 6 days, the good ship Ever Given got out of that jam.
And you know what got it free? Well, it was 2 things:
First, they used an excavator digger, like a backhoe, to try to dig it out. It wasn’t just any excavator, it was a Komatsu excavator. Komatsu is the 2nd largest manufacturer of construction equipment (2nd to Caterpillar). And guess what I did? I looked up what Komatsu means. It means “small pine tree” – an evergreen. And to remind us the Ever Given ship is operated by the Evergreen corporation.
Psalm 118 tells us that the messiah inspires us to proclaim “God’s love endures forever!” “..God’s love endures forever!” God’s love is constant and perpetual. God’s love is evergreen.
And even though humanity rejected the one sent to us, “the stone the builders rejected became the cornerstone!”
We Christians would say that Jesus was that stone that humanity rejected, and despite human rejection, God lifted up that rejected stone and has made Christ to be the cornerstone for rebuilding our lives.
In the letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul tells us to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” – and there’s a way that we have our part to play in it. We can engage in some needed soul searching, some needed repentance, some needed self-improvement efforts, but our efforts are like that tiny Komatsu excavator digger trying to dig free the world’s largest cargo ship, one tiny scoop at a time. Cute. Important. Helpful. … yet, cute.
But there was something else that really did the heavy lifting and freed up that Ever Given ship from its epic jam – it was what the insurance industry would refer to as “an act of God” – it was the moon. Specifically, it was the gravitational pull of our moon causing the tides to shift, filling up that canal with water which lifted that ship free. In fact, it was a spring, “King Tide” that came in and saved the day. It was a literal sea-change ushered in by the King that did it.
Friends, the Good News for us is that though our efforts to save ourselves with the evergreen excavator of self-reflection and repentance may fall short; and though our efforts to free ourselves with the coniferous Komatsu digger of self-help programs may seem paltry,
God’s enduring love endures forever and provides the sea-change that we need! God’s enduring love endures forever and even though humanity killed the one who taught us about God’s great love, God heeded Jesus’ prayer “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” and God’s enduring love redeemed us despite ourselves!
The Good News is that our efforts to make things better get a massive booster shot of God’s Grace – and because of that, we can be made whole. The Good News is that, though we may find ourselves being scraped, God gives us new life to live again!
Put another way, the Good News is that even though humanity dished out its worst by rejecting that beautiful man from Nazareth, and brutally executing him on a Roman cross, not even death can stop the truth from living on! Human violence and human rejection can’t deny the truth of the non-violent, compassionate, forgiving, unconditionally loving way, teachings, and example of Jesus!
That way of unconditional love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and restorative justice leads to salvation – and not even the epic, yea Cosmic, human mess-up of rejecting and killing that man from Nazareth can stop it. Christ is Risen! Christ is risen indeed! And Christ’s love lives on – Evermore!
Amen. Happy Easter Everyone.
XX – Roger